An LLB Law degree and a job in the UK NHS – what medically related professions can you pursue after these studies?
Studying law and then pursuing a career as a lawyer – why not? Working in a law firm offers financial and professional stability, as well as being interesting and challenging. However, this is not the only route for LLB Law graduates in the UK. If you are interested in issues at the intersection of law and medicine, why not try your hand at working for the UK’s National Health Service?
An institution of legend, or what is the NHS in the UK?
The National Health System can be seen as the equivalent of the Polish National Health Fund. It is the common name for the four publicly funded health systems operating in the UK. For the most part, the NHS provides medical services to UK citizens and residents – free of charge and in full.
For Britons, the NHS is more than just an institution. Surveys show that it is one of the greatest objects of pride for UK residents and surpasses even the royal family, the army and the BBC in this respect. Although there have been reports in the media for some time now criticising the performance of the NHS and pointing out its serious failings, this one of the world’s oldest public healthcare systems is highly trusted in the UK.
The NHS and much more – what jobs in the health industry can lawyers do?
Wondering what all this has to do with studying for an LLB Law degree? Against all appearances, quite a lot! The National Health Service is one of the largest employers in the UK, and among its more than 1.5 million employees are not only medical professionals, but also other professionals.
What legal professions can you pursue in the NHS as an LLB Law graduate? Here are some possibilities:
healthcare solicitor – a solicitor who acts for doctors and other medical staff, giving them legal advice and representing them in court cases;
risk manager – a person who manages risks and minimises medical errors that may put patients and staff at risk;
legal services administrator – a specialist who responds to patients’ enquiries, complaints and grievances;
paralegal – a person who performs assistant functions in legal departments.
The National Health System is not the only institution where you can work as a medical lawyer. Knowledge of medical law can also be useful for positions at:
Medical Defence Union – an organisation offering support, advice and redress to people in the medical services during litigation, the handling of patient complaints and other cases;
The Medico-Legal Society – an association of doctors and lawyers whose aim is to promote knowledge among these professions;
Pharmaceutical companies, in drug regulatory compliance positions;
Civil Service – the UK civil service;
private companies, as medical law consultants;
in universities, as lecturers.
Are law and medicine a successful combination?
Studying law and medicine at the same time is a big challenge that only a few are able to meet. However, there is nothing stopping you from first completing a medical degree in the UK and then studying for an LLB Law. This pathway is attractive to many doctors – medicine and law have a lot in common. Both degrees have a similar level of difficulty, with students required to be able to memorise large amounts of material quickly, think analytically and combine facts.
LLB Law studies, internship, exam… A legal career in medicine step by step
If you are thinking of working as a solicitor in the NHS or any other medical-related institution, your first step in your education should be a 3-year LLB Law degree. In the UK, it is also possible for graduates in other subjects to gain a legal qualification by completing relevant courses. However, if you are already determined to pursue a career in law, it is best to start with the right studies straight away.
In the UK, studies for future lawyers have a slightly different structure than in Poland. In our country, law is a 5-year single master’s degree. In the British education system, you can become a law graduate after just 3 years, because that is how long the LLB Law (Bachelor of Laws) degree lasts.
For jobs in the National Health Service, people with qualifications at solicitor or barrister level are most commonly sought after. These professions have no equivalent in Polish law. A solicitor is a person who provides legal advice in their own office, working in a company, office or other organisation. A barrister has a function that can be compared to that of a Polish advocate. He or she is the one who represents clients during hearings in court.
In order to become fully qualified as a barrister, in addition to completing your LLB Law degree, you still need to participate in a 2-year internship programme. You decide at which institution you will apply for the internship.
If you want to specialise in medical law, think about participating in an internship programme at a firm or institution dealing with this area of law. This will better prepare you for your profession.
The last of the steps ahead of you will be the examination – the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. This is new to the UK legal system. The exam is valid from 2021 and is compulsory for those wishing to work as both a barrister and solicitor. It involves testing theoretical knowledge and practical preparation for the profession.
The National Health Service is an institution that everyone in the UK knows. Want to become part of it? Start with the basics – apply with us to study LLB Law!